Interview with vocalist Vince Nihil
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: August 20, 2023
Blackened speed metal with a punk chaser? No, we are not talking about British legends Venom, but four German horsemen of all things old-school metal by the name of Knife, who may well become the legends in the future, who knows?
Knife started out in 2019 and have released one 4-song EP in 2020, titled Locked In, and their self-titled debut full-length on Dying Victims Productions in October 2021. The band has worked their asses off by playing at a good number of metal festivals, so Knife's name is already on the lips of many metal maniacs around the (dying) globe. Plus, what makes things even sweeter for all of us, they are set to release their follow-up album, titled Heaven into Dust, on Napalm Records on August 25.
We had a chance to ask a few questions of the band's prime motivator, Vince Nihil, who gave us some insight into the band's latest and future happenings.
Thanks to Sarah-Jane Albrecht from Napalm Records for setting up the interview.
Hallo Vince! Wie geht's?
Vince: Hi, everything's fine. Thank you for asking. I hope you're doing fine as well!
FOLLOW-UP ALBUM – HEAVEN INTO DUST
Knife's new album, Heaven into Dust, will be released on August 25, 2023. How would you say it compares to your debut self-titled album, released in 2021? Does it follow the same recipe as your debut, with maybe a few new spices here and there?
Vince: The basic approach of writing songs has not really changed. We still start with the riffs and the lyrics and afterwards we go to our rehearsal room and start arranging the songs. To a certain extent, we have expanded our sound a little bit by incorporating a broader musical variety. So, the ingredients are still the same but it's more of everything. We put all the influences on the next level.
Did the way you worked on this album differ from the songwriting and recording methods of your debut album, which apparently was a bit of a learning process for you guys as to how you wanted to sound and such?
Vince: The main difference is that we were able to rehearse, play and arrange the songs together. Due to the pandemic, we had almost no chance to work on the songs together thus the new songs are more advanced compared to the old ones. We still love the old tracks but this time we spent more time on details.
After the experiences with the first record, we also knew what we wanted to improve sound-wise. I think the new album shows this development quite well. It's a nod to the old school.
Were there any changes between your songwriting responsibilities between these two albums? Would you say each of you contributed to the songwriting pretty much equally?
Vince: We did not change the way of writing songs. As I mentioned earlier, Laz is the main songwriter who comes up with all the tasty riffs, I am responsible for the lyrics and then we all work together. If someone does not agree, we put the song aside. It is important that everyone contributes to the final outcome. The songs on Heaven into Dust are the result of the four leather hounds working together to give you the metal you need.
Did you record this new album at Fat Knob Studios as you did with your debut full-length?
Vince: Recording, mixing and mastering was all done at Fat Knob, the studio of our drum maniac Ferli. Again, he did a great job, capturing the Knife energy with an even better sound than on the first record.
BLACK SPEED METAL PUNK
In the review at The Metal Crypt by our own MetalMike, he wrote, "... they give us the ultra-fast yet traditional metal-based riffing of Show No Mercy-era Slayer and maniacal screams of Exciter's Dan Beehler with a shit load of Venom's punk-fuel arrogant attitude." Would you say that also sums up your follow-up album Heaven...?
Vince: Haha, hell yeah... Thanks! This is great. I would totally agree that this sums up what Knife is all about. It's black speed metal punk! Since we are all fans, it is obvious that you can immediately identify our influences. It is great fun, playing that kind of old school METAL.
Heaven into Dust is your first album on Napalm Records. How did you end up signing a deal with them?
Vince: We had already started working on the new record when we received a message from Napalm's Sebastian. He told us that they were interested in cooperating with us. Of course, we had to discuss everything with Florian of Dying Victims Productions, who had already done a great job with our self-titled debut album. After several phone calls and talks, we came up with a good solution for everyone. We are still grateful for Flo's incredible support, but now we are really looking forward to taking the new opportunities. The crusade continues, so to speak.
Did you have and other labels that were fighting for your attention?
Vince: Before recording the first album there were some labels who were interested in cooperating, but we decided to join Dying Victims. There were no other labels interested this time, apart from Napalm.
SOME LUCK AND HARD WORK
How do you see the music business these days in terms of competition, with its countless bands and artists? Do you feel you need to have some luck in order to succeed? Cannot emphasize this one cold fact either; being at the right place at the right time may sometimes be all you need, right?
Vince: Of course, if you want to be successful you need to have luck, but another aspect that is as important as having luck is that you are determined to reach your goals and that you must work hard. But what does it mean to be successful? We can play and release our music, meet metal maniacs at shows and we have a great time together. I think that this is already success enough. Everything that goes beyond this is a great bonus. We are happy that we met the right people and that these guys believed in us and our music.
About one month ago, you released an official video for the title track of your album, "Heaven Into Dust." I don't know if it's only me, but I got similar vibes from it that one can see in the setting of Venom's "Bloodlust" video, originally released in September 1982 with similar types of stripped-down lighting and stuff. I guess this isn't just a pure coincidence... or is it?
Vince: Haha, you're right. We wanted to make an old-school METAL video in the tradition of Venom. It should be METAL to the max with a wall of Marshalls, pyros, spikes, and leather. We did not want a modern video. The video should show the people what to expect when they attend a Knife show, even though we do not have enough money for pyros, hehe...
What does Venom (the original one) mean to you personally? How influential of a band have they been for Knife?
Vince: There is so much greatness about Venom. The first three albums especially summarize everything extreme music is about. It is the punk attitude, showing the world that they don't give a shit about being "great" musicians. They wanted to be extreme, and they succeeded. And they also had a great sense of imagery. The photos and artwork are simply great. Venom combines everything that I like about extreme music. Punk and metal and a good amount of craziness. But being a Venom clone would not make sense to us because we would not sound the way we do without the mighty Iron Maiden.
UP THE IRONS!
I also heard this one wild rumor that you are obsessed with Iron Maiden vinyl records. How did this collecting madness all start for you?
Vince: Oh, well, I think this is a little exaggerated. Even though I adore Maiden, I wouldn't say that I am an obsessive collector. There are many, many other people who are the true Maiden maniacs. But I still have some nice collectibles, especially some nice picture shape LPs and some really old shirts.
But it is true, I like collecting all things metal. CDs, vinyl, shirts, posters and so on. I think it all started when I was a teenager. I started to buy CDs regularly and at a certain point I had already collected about 700. I already owned some LPs, but I started collecting vinyl a little later. My collection is nice, but there are so many people I know whose collection is by far bigger than mine. Nevertheless, my collection is still growing.
I also have a nice collection of t-shirts, even though I do not really "collect" them because I also wear them. I think it is time to count them again. It's been a while since the last time. I have one wardrobe for band shirts only.
What's the "Holy Grail" of your personal Maiden collection so far?
Vince: I think the original "Aces High" t-shirt from 1984 might be something that could be considered my "Holy Grail."
Do you belong to that rare group of people who have managed to meet one or more Maiden guys in person? Any cool story to tell about one of those meetings perhaps?
Vince: Unfortunately, I haven't met them yet. It would be great to meet them to talk about the beginning of the NWOBHM and how they dealt with the huge success. I just saw some pictures of them backstage at the Wacken Open Air. We had to leave early. This would have made a great chance to meet them. Maybe next time.
GIGGING KEEPS YOU STAY SANE
As for playing live, I noticed you have some cool gig opportunities coming up this autumn with such names as Sodom, Legion of the Damned, Asphyx, and so forth. Do you find playing live is a soul-curing element, which gives you a feeling of euphoria when you get to play in front of cheering crowds?
Vince: Yes. Playing live is the most important thing. It is great to celebrate metal with the maniacs in the audience but also with the other bands. The lineups of the upcoming shows are insane. This is going to be a wild ride.
I think that being in a band and playing live is a good way to stay sane. We all work full-time so it is nice to enter a different world at all these great metal shows and festivals, meeting people from different places.
What could be some of your short-term plans with Knife? What about the long-term plans?
Vince: We are currently focusing on the release of Heaven into Dust, doing all the interviews and stuff. We will also rehearse the new songs for the upcoming shows. Laz and I have already talked about working on new material, but I guess we will start with that in early 2024 after the tour with Sodom. Maybe we will also record another EP in the tradition of the Sounds of Sacrifice EP. So, there is still a lot of work to do, and you can be sure that we will strike again.
And finally, what's the band's ultimate goal that you'd like to reach before the time has come to bite the dust?
Vince: There is one thing that we want to accomplish. We want to meet Rudolf Schenker. After meeting the legend that is Rudi Schenker, we can happily disband Knife. Mission accomplished, hahaha!!
Thanks so much, Vince, for taking the time with my questions and, of course, all the best to you and the band's future endeavors as well. Any fitting closing words left maybe?
Vince: Thank you very much for the interview and the support.
There is not much to add. Dear readers, do not forget your local scene. Go to the shows, buy the records, and support the underground. UP THE IRONS!
|Other information about Knife on this site
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